Sunflower seeds are the perfect ingredient for allergen-free pesto
If you’re making classic basil pesto, the recipe likely calls for nuts. While pine nuts are very common, some recipes for this sauce with ancient Roman roots call for almonds or walnuts instead. However, adding any nuts to pesto can be limiting for those with allergies, or who don’t like the taste of nuts.
For a nut-free alternative, try substituting some sunflower seeds. Once processed with the rest of the ingredients, the finished pesto will maintain a similar consistency to pesto with nuts: smooth enough to use as a pasta sauce, but thick enough to spread on flatbread.
To make a simple, nut-free version of lemon basil pesto, blend sunflower seeds, basil, garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and oil in a food processor or blender. Once the mixture is smooth and spreadable, it can be added to pasta as a sauce, spread on top of pizza crust, added to sandwiches, or used as a dip. If you want to enhance the flavor of your pesto, there are several ways to enhance the taste of sunflower seeds before adding them.
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How to increase the flavor of sunflower seeds
For extra flavor, toast sunflower seeds before adding them to a pesto recipe. The seeds alone have a mild nutty flavour. However, with a little roasting, this flavor will intensify, and help add a new depth of flavor to the pesto.
Another way to improve the taste of sunflower seeds is to toss them in oil and spices before roasting. You can toss the seeds in salt, pepper, or water-activated garlic powder to taste. Since the oil has already been drizzled to get the right consistency while mixing the pesto, a few seeds won’t hurt.
In general, sunflower seeds are safe for those with nut allergies. The FDA notes that although sunflower seeds share some similarities with walnuts and Brazil nuts, they are minor enough that they do not affect most people. While it’s always best to test for allergies to be on the safe side, sunflower seed allergies are somewhat rare.
The best seeds to use in nut-free pesto
There are several other ways to make pesto without nuts if you’re not a fan of sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds can serve as a suitable substitute for sauce. The mild flavor of the seeds will allow the grassy and cheesy flavors of the pesto to shine. They may add a little cream to the sauce if it is mixed well. (Blended sesame seeds produce tahini, which is the main ingredient in hummus.)
Pumpkin seeds, which can also substitute for nuts, taste mild and slightly chewy. However, as with sunflower seeds, if you toast pumpkin seeds before adding them to pesto, they can take on a nutty taste. Since the seeds are a little larger than sesame or sunflower seeds, they may require some additional mixing time to break down.
Next time you want to make nut-free pesto, try replacing the nuts with your favorite seeds. You’ll end up with a similar consistency, and an allergy-friendly sauce, making it a better choice for social gatherings.
Read the original article on Daily Mail.